BRE Trust Centre for Sustainable Engineering

BRE Centre for Sustainable Construction

A new generation of digital buildings

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) Trust Centre in Sustainable Engineering aims to pave the way for a new generation of digital buildings that have lifelong resilience and adaptability to their environment, usage and occupancy. This will be made possible by smart materials and products, integrated design and manufacturing systems, and total lifecycle approaches.

The group is interested in investigating how to ensure optimum resilience, sustainability, and continual fitness for purpose on our existing building stock and how to best deliver new or refurbished human-centred buildings that address lifetime requirements and are adaptable and resilient.

In essence, buildings should have the ability to be context-aware, i.e. factor in environmental and user needs, such as behaviour and lifestyle patterns, and thus be adaptive to change. There is a need to re-think the concept of a building and move from traditional ‘low value’ components towards extended IT-aware materials and products embedding various forms of ‘intelligence’.

Academic and research expertise

The concept of a dynamic and self-updatable digital conceptualization of a building that fully exploits latest advances in ICT, including pervasive sensing technologies, is central to the Centre’s vision.

These digital technologies will help maintain a dynamic representation of a building necessary to provide real-time building performance (including energetic) accounts, while ensuring the building has lifelong adaptability to its usage and environment.

Smart materials and products
Research in this theme involves material and structural performance enhancement to different combinations of solicitations and the development of novel materials with embedded resilience.

Virtual manufacturing and supply chain management
Research in this theme explores design and manufacturing business models that promote sustainable and total lifecycle integrated product development approaches.

Building intelligence
Research in this the theme involves the design and deployment of digital technologies to support stakeholders’ activities and knowledge needs across the lifecycle of a building project.

Building resilience
Research in this theme explores how risk management and built environmental protection can be integrated into design and construction sustainability principles and approaches.

Energy and sustainability
This theme is concerned with management of energy in buildings with a view of delivering lifelong sustainable facilities.

Comfort, health and well-being
The exploration of comfort conditions of occupants and socio-technical aspects that underpin user interaction with buildings and building systems via digital interfaces forms the focus of this theme.

Current projects

The Centre is currently carrying out a variety of projects including:

  • Knowledge based energy management for public buildings though holistic information modelling and 3D visualisation (KNOWHOEIM), sponsored by the European Commission under FP7
  • CloudBIM: Exploring the feasibility and potential for cloud research in the architecture, engineering and construction sector, sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • SCriPT: Sustainable Construction Service Platform, sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government
  • Cost- effective, large- scale, adaptable and deployable innovative domestic renewable energy product and process solutions, sponsored by BRE Ltd, MOMENTA


Visit the Centre's own website for more information.

Recognition and awards

Professor Yacine Rezgui, who is the Centre leader, is a qualified architect and holds the BRE Chair in Building Systems and Informatics. Researchers in the Centre are members and chairs of various academic and engineering organisations such as the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers Working Commission on Information Technology, the European Group for Intelligent Computing in Engineering, the Board of the Association of European Civil Engineering Faculty, the British Computer Society and the Society of Collaborative Networks.

Prizes include the Literati Club Award for Excellence and the Donald Julius Groen Prize of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.